In the last several months I have been in conversations with other Women's Ministry leaders as we have discussed some of the reasons that Women’s Ministry might be dying or have already died in a church. There were various thoughts and ideas but as I have continued to think and pray I feel it can be narrowed down to four major areas.
1. You do not have the proper leader support. This is two-fold. If your women’s ministry leader or team are leading just because no one else is and she hasn’t been called by God then most likely it will fail. If you have those on the leadership team that aren’t passionate about the ministry again it will eventually fail. It would be like hiring a pastor who hasn’t been called to the ministry, he will burn out.
The second part of this is that you can have the right women in leadership but if the pastors and/or board do not see the need for a ministry to women it will never work. If the men aren’t supportive from the top then it will speak volumes to the women’s leadership and the women you are trying minister to.
Church tends to be heavy on male leadership, and rightly so. But women need to be heard. They have a role to play in leadership and ministering to the women of the church.
Too often men have a hands off approach and that just does not work. A woman who understands and is mature will want accountability from the men leaders. On the other hand they do not need to be micro-managed. They need to be allow to grow and develop the ministry. They need the trust of the board and pastors.
The right leadership is key. You want the right women on the team. You want the right leader. Without a leader the team may keep the ministry afloat but without one steering the ship eventually it will sink. Again we can liken it to a pastor, if a church does have a pastor and is only being lead by the board, they may do fine for a while, but eventually it will implode for there is no one steering the ship. You need a leader. Someone called by God to lead and minister to the women. But if your church board is not involved, if they aren’t supportive and encouraging the ministry to grow then the boat will sink regardless. of having the right leader or not.
An obvious question now is “how do you go about gaining the proper support from the pastors and board if you do not currently have it?” I do have some suggestions but it will have to wait for another blog post as it is too involved.
2. You have lost touch with the demographics. It’s important to understand who is attending your church. Who are the women you are trying to minister to? You will never be able to reach everyone all the time, but it’s important to understand the economic and cultural differences of your congregation.
For example. If your church has a lot of young mom’s and you are planning things without considering childcare most likely your young mom’s aren’t going to show up. You may get the older women which is fine but you need to understand that unintentionally just wiped out a large group of your women.
If all your events cost money it may affect who attends. Yes at times it is important to charge something, even if it’s for accountability, but if the majority of your women’s are low income you might not reach them.
There are a lot of examples I could give but bottom line is, know your women. Understand where they come from and who they are. Listening to their stories. Find ways that you can reach across racial and economic lines. If your church is diverse but you are only getting one group or type of woman to come out then you might want to try and find out why you are not reaching the African or Latino in your church community. Why are the women with a lower income not getting involved? You need to ask these questions. You need to take some time and have open honest conversations with the women you are not reaching. Take time to listen to their story.
3. You have lost touch with where your women are spiritually. Once you have identified the demographics of your women you need to understand their needs. For example if the majority of your women are mature believers and you are offering basic studies they may not attend. On the other hand if you have a lot of new believers and you do not grow them in the basics of study you may lose them too.
My suggestion is to try to offer studies that might appeal to both or make sure that you have a variety of studies to choose from. I often wonder if we wouldn’t better serve our women if we offered studies that would increase in depth and doctrine over a course of time.
I imagine this to look somewhat like this, a basic Christianity 101 for new or fairly new believers. Here you would study what the gospel is and what it means to follow Christ. This would also include how to study the Bible. Once finished a woman would feel a bit more confident stepping into a study filled with mature believers. Too often I have heard women drop out from study due to feeling lost and lacking understanding of what seems like the basics to other believers.
We need to remember not all women are on the same level of their spiritual growth. Some may be stuck in hurt and past sins, or they may be really struggling with their faith or just life in general. We can’t assume everyone is “fine”. Many are not, many women need help to understand how to grow beyond the places they are stuck in.
4. Women have moved on. If your women’s ministry has been weak or dying then chances are pretty good that the women have moved on. Those who are mature and desire to be involved in ministry or in Bible studies may have found it outside the church walls. It is possible that they have gotten involved in other community studies. They may be serving in para-church organizations and non-profits.
I am not saying these things are wrong but if you have “lost” your women to good, biblical service then regroup and take a look at who is left. Who are the women who are floundering and in need of guidance. So often I find leaders focusing on how do we get the women back when maybe we should concentrate on how do we serve those who didn’t move on, but gave up.
Look to build a ministry to those who haven’t moved on. As the ministry was dying there are those women who died with it. They were not in a place to move on, they still need maturing and help growing.
After all, the goal in women’s ministry is to grow your women to the point where they are moving out and serving in the community. By community I mean those within your walls and outside your walls. As a leader your job is to minister to the ones who have not matured spiritually to the point that they are serving.
As I close I want you to understand I am not an expert. I was in Women’s Ministry for six years. I have been out for four years. But over the last several months God has been opening up my eyes as I listen to women and watch them. I ask questions and listen to their stories. Women are hurting. They feel lost and alone. Many feel that church leadership isn’t listening to them or does not care.
These are precious women who want to live lives obedient to God. But they need help. They have something to say. They want to be heard. They want to connect and feel that they belong.
So before the ministry is completely dead someone needs to stop and listen. You need to hear the heart’s cry of women from all walks of life, in every stage and let them know they are not alone.
**Due to some private messages and emails I feel I must state that this is NOT written to any church in particular. It is not meant to point to any one person or leader in particular. These observations are based on talking with other ministry leaders both in my area and on the world wide web.